Who is Jesus? A Look at Isaiah 53 (Part 1)
The Old Testament is full of prophecies about the coming of a King who will save the world. With Easter around the corner, I want to dive into Isaiah Chapter 53 which tells us a lot about this coming Savior.
Isaiah chapter 53 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible, I just love it. In fact, every time I read it I am brought to tears because of the promise it makes and the description it gives about our Savior. Let's take a look...
Isaiah was an Old Testament Hebrew prophet who lived 700 years before the birth of Christ. In his book, Isaiah wrote about many things, mostly prophetic, including proclaiming the holiness of God, revealing the fall of Satan, and the uncovering of the coming Messiah.
Isaiah chapter 53 only has 12 verses and each verse gives us a look at who the coming Messiah really is. It is a descriptive chapter and for this post we will review verses 1- 6:
Who is Jesus, Part One.
Let's start at verse one:
"Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" (V1)
In verse one Isaiah asks two questions. The first question is: "Who has believed our report?" Here, the word "our" Isaiah is referring to the Old Testament prophets who have been given a word from the Lord about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.
In the second question, the words "the arm of the Lord" refer to the power of God unto salvation. As we now know, salvation will come from the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
So, Isaiah is basically asking the reader: who is going to believe these words about Jesus Christ, the One who will save the world? All Isaiah can do is give us the words that he has been given by the Lord. It is up to us to read these words and to make the decision to believe them.
For me, verse two is where tears start to form in my eyes. This is where the physical description of Jesus is given. Isaiah is very specific in his writing and for the Jews who lived during the time of Jesus, who knew the books of the prophets, should have been able to identify Jesus by the writings of Isaiah. Unfortunately, many of them missed the signs. Verse two:
"For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him." (V2)
The first sentence tells us that Jesus would grow up before the eyes of the Lord, unnoticed by the rest of the world. God hid Jesus as the son of a lowly carpenter. He was not ushered in as royalty like the Jews expected their Messiah would be. He was simply a carpenter's son. This fact about Jesus would cause the people to automatically question His authority and ultimately reject Him.
Isaiah tells us that Jesus had no form or comeliness. This means that Jesus would not have the beautiful form or appearance that they would have expected from a king. He did not have outward beauty as they anticipated He would have.
The word "comeliness" here is translated as having honor or glory. In other words, He would not come from royalty as was previously stated. It was assumed that this King would come from royalty, but instead, He came from humble beginnings, being the son of a carpenter.
Verse three is where my tears begin to fall. Reading these verses and knowing that the Lord had prepared every detail of how Jesus would be treated by His own people cuts deep. To know how Jesus was treated should be enough to break anyone's heart:
"He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him." (V3)
The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus was refused and forsaken. He was the object of contempt by the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes and priests - His own people, not to mention the Romans. His entire life - from His birth to the cross - was filled with sorrows. Even today, many people continue to reject Him even after they learn of what He did for all mankind.
The third line of verse three says, "And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him." There are many ideas as to what this line is referring to. In this context it seems to mean that people hid and continue to hide their faces from Jesus in scorn or contempt simply because He was not what they were expecting. No matter what the reference is, people turned their faces away from Him and continue to do so to this day.
Jesus was then, and still is today, despised and denied the glory and esteem that He so deserves. He is worthy and yet, Isaiah prophesied that He would be despised - 700 years before He was born.
Verses four and five of Isaiah 53 describe what Jesus endured. As you read these verses, try to picture what Jesus went through and how He felt - all while remembering that His suffering was for all of us, for all of mankind, and remember that He was a Man without sin and innocent of all charges against Him.
"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted." (V4)
This verse starts with the word "surely" which represents an exclamation to emphasize something unexpected. Jesus carried our burdens and took on our sufferings that were due to our sins. Those that rejected Jesus felt as if He was subject to God's wrath because He had done something wrong. They believed that God was severely judging Him. But, they failed to realize that it was them who were found guilty under God's judgement, as we are today, and Jesus was taking their due punishment all on Himself.
However, verse five tells tells us that Jesus was blamed and punished for our sins and iniquities:
"But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed." (V5)
Jesus was physically pierced, tormented, bruised, beaten beyond understanding, and put to death. Not because of what He had done, but because of what WE have done. Jesus could not be punished for what He did - He was innocent, He had done nothing wrong - BUT He took the sufferings of the world upon Himself to secure our salvation. He died for us - He took our place.
Is there any greater gift that you can think of than what Jesus did for you and me?
Verse six is a firm reminder of why Jesus died for us. Without His death on the cross, we have no hope of eternal life:
"All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." (V6)
The first sentence of verse six includes Isaiah's confession for all of us. We all have gone astray and we are all guilty and we are the ones that Jesus died for.
But why? The next sentence tells us why...We go down the paths that we choose. We think that we know best. We seek our own pleasures and think we can do everything on our own. We have turned to our own ways.
The Lord God knew that we could not do this life on our own. He knew that we would never survive without a Savior. This is why He sent Jesus to die in our place.
Jesus took on all of our iniquities - our sins - and carried the weight of the world to the cross. Jesus suffered as if He was a sinner even though He had committed NO sin - and He did it for ALL sinners...every single one of us. The Bible tells us that we ALL need Jesus because "all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).
Isaiah prophesied that there would be a coming Savior. (Remember, this prophesy was made 700 years before Jesus was born). The prophesy is important because not only does it identify our Savior, but it also gives the Word of God the authenticity that so many people debate. The Word of God is true and prophecies like Isaiah 53 validate this fact.
We have covered the first half of Isaiah 53 in Part One. Please take time to really read these verses and pray that God will open your eyes to the sacrifice that Jesus made and the sufferings that He endured on your behalf.
See you for Part Two...(click here to read now).